Gray north, colorful south – does joy of life have coordinates?

Just in Tokyo, 4 hours later I am spat out in Manila. I can feel the contrast that could not be felt more strongly. And there it is again this question: Why do people look to me in countries where all luxury is so harsh and unhappy? And the joy of life seems to be bubbling in the poorer countries. Somehow … absurd!

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The north gray and successful, the south sunny and semi-successful. When you hear the words joie de vivre, sociability, cheerfulness, which countries come to mind? And what about economic power, technological progress and prosperity? If you take a look at the map, my results show that the first countries are closer to the equator, i.e. in warm areas: Brazil, Argentina, actually South America in general, Indonesia, Spain, even Africa can be found on my list. The latter terms rather in cooler zones: Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, America. So does that mean that the weather hits on mood and success – and mutually?

I dare to take a look at the “success” page: Why some countries are economically more successful because of their geography than others, why the political situation is differently stable or unstable explains Tim Marshall in his book “The Power of Geography” impressively vividly. I devoured the book. I never expected this topic. The economic success depends strongly on the political situation, this and the economic power in turn on the geographical conditions.

And what about the other side? The “joie de vivre”? Wouldn’t the countries in which the economy is doing extremely well have every reason to dance all day long? And then I look into the faces that squeeze into the subway in the morning or frantically push through the streets at noon, thinking of the suicide forest in Japan or the many lonely hearts in Sweden (Sweden has the most single households). With all the security, all the technology that makes everyday life so pleasant, all the pampering spa facilities – it doesn’t seem to bring the real joy to life.

Then what is it? Have we lost touch with the little joys in life? Are you stuck in the hamster wheel? Strictly speaking, we put ourselves there all alone. And we are not really ready to stop running or even clear the space. Luck is waiting somewhere, driven by the hope that if you just keep running fast enough. At the latest in retirement. Then you can do everything that you have provided for a lifetime. Hopefully this will still work, purely physically!

Is it really the worry of prosperity? If you have a lot, you have a lot to lose. So you have to plan ahead. Shouldn’t it be less at some point. So the pantries are filled and filled with money-worthy things, while inflation nibbles away from below and the uncertainty of the unpredictable future increases the need for stocks. Welcome back to the hamster wheel. So that brought us the agricultural revolution over 12,000 years ago. We have possessions to defend and we need supplies to survive bad times. It was easier for hunters and gatherers. They could just move on, nature provided for the daily need for food and possessions couldn’t be carried around anyway, they were just ballast and therefore had no meaning. How simple everything was. The Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari has illustrated the curse and blessing of our story in his book “A Brief History of Humankind”.

Perhaps the reason for happiness is also much easier: the sun. We simply lack enough vitamin D, the light tingle on the skin and above all light! In the dark, cold winters you have to be grumpy. And nobody wants to go out either. So everyone stays at home, TV on, done! No space for relaxed socializing. Jumped south: when it is warm, or even really hot, you have no choice but to let five be straight at noon, when the sun is burning vertically on people and nature. Diving through the day is not possible. In the evening it is all the more beautiful outside. And it’s easy to get together outside. There it is, the conviviality.

Another thought: physical stress vs. social pressure. Which of the two affects your mind more? Burnout, depression, suicide. I am not well-read in this topic, so I do not want to draw any wrong conclusions. But it seems to me that the causes of negative feelings are much more rooted in the things that we as a society share as ideologies and myths, create in our thoughts and live together as values. Simply homemade. Biologically, this usually makes little sense. We don’t need that to survive. So you can hardly call it “natural”. So when we hear from an early age that it is good and worth striving to do something in life and mean to amass money, we define success over money. In other forms of society, starting with a family may be the first priority. The ideology says that this is success in life. Economic form / organizational form, religion, culture – all this shapes our thoughts, feelings and ultimately our behavior. But honestly, we could define everything as success – we just have to believe in it as a relevant large group. It’s crazy how simple and yet difficult we humans are with our thought constructs.

And so I continue to spin the net of possibilities for the cause that joy of life is felt so differently, lived or simply expressed on this planet.

What are your thoughts on this? I look forward to food for thought, facts, reading recommendations, questions and observations …

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